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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dean's Column (Nov. 2016)

Dear Extension Retirees,

In our last newsletter, I told you about my effort to bring awareness to how Extension reaches all corners of Minnesota by visiting all 15 of our regional offices and as many counties as possible this year.

As we near the end of 2016, I’m proud to report that I did visit every regional office, and as of early November, have been to 81 of our 87 counties. There’s still time, and I’ll reach my goal!

These trips have been fun because of the opportunity they gave me to visit with Extension employees – past and present – and our donors and partners. In some cases I was able to attend local events, and to conduct media interviews like this one that appeared in the Worthington Globe. Most of all, I enjoyed learning more about our programs and seeing the pride all of us take in the excellent work we do for our stakeholders.

I’ve also been pleased to attend all five of the University’s new SPARKS programs so far. The programs offer an opportunity for people in Greater Minnesota to hear from University faculty about current issues in their fields.

The final SPARKS event for 2016 will be in St. Cloud next week (Nov. 10) and two of the three speakers are from Extension: Mark Seeley and Ben Winchester. I hope to see you there, as well as at other programs like it that provide a way for Extension to share all that we do for Minnesota.

Bev Durgan


Dean Durgan with retirees in Rochester (left) and Detroit Lakes

Order the 2017 Minnesota Gardening calendar for a favorite gardener

Cover of Minnesota Gardening Calendar 2017
The Minnesota Gardening calendar, produced by the University of Minnesota Extension and
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, features seasonal photos and monthly gardening tips. The 2017 edition offers special features, including water saving strategies for home lawns (with a step-by-step guide for irrigation systems) and a vegetable garden planting guide. Buy them for yourself and as gifts for favorite fellow gardeners in time for the holidays and the upcoming gardening year! Proceeds from the sale of the calendar support statewide horticulture outreach education. To order the calendar from the University of Minnesota Bookstore, visit Receive a 10% discount by entering MG10 in the coupon code.

Year-end giving opportunities

Make a difference today

Whatever your charitable goals or priorities, there are a variety of ways to make a year-end gift to Extension, the Minnesota 4-H Foundation, or other University programs.
  • Cash gifts. Cash gifts of any size have an immediate impact on the Extension or University program of your choice. You choose how your gift is used, giving you the opportunity to see the results of your generosity. You will also receive a charitable deduction on your federal income taxes when you itemize. You can also make a gift via electronic fund transfer each month. You will create a larger impact through your giving by making manageable payments in an amount that's right for you. We make it easy— you can make a secure gift online at Select Community & Outreach when you get to the selection page, and choose the Extension from the list.
  • Stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Stocks, bonds and mutual funds that have increased in value offer a great giving opportunity.
  • Other options. You can make a charitable gift by using retirement plan assets such as an IRA or commercial annuities, or by giving a life insurance policy to the U—combining charitable objectives with tax advantages.
For more information on supporting your favorite Extension programs, please contact Jane Johnson, Chief Development Officer at 612-626-3717 or

Attention snowbirds!

Do you travel to Florida or Arizona in the winter? Extension is very fortunate again this year to have speakers selected as part of the annual MinneCollege program organized by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. These events feature University faculty and experts speaking on topics of current interest and conclude with a reception.
  • John Erwin, professor and Extension horticulturist, will present at the Florida MinneCollege, Feb. 4, 2017, Naples Hilton, Naples, FL. Registration noon, program, 1 p.m.
  • Karen Oberhauser, professor and Extension specialist - Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, will be the keynote speaker; and Ben Winchester, Extension fellow, will be presenting at the Arizona MinneCollege, Feb. 25, 2017 at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains, Scottsdale AZ. Registration noon, program, 1 p.m.

If you would like more information, please contact the Extension Development Office at 612-626-3717 or

Gift helps 4-H’ers make their own state fair memories

David and Linda Werner say 4-H shaped their lives. When they were considering how to give back, they decided to focus on scholarships and other support for 4-H’ers who otherwise would not be able to participate in the Minnesota State Fair after earning a trip. David is an Extension retiree who remains involved with Extension through part-time work in finance. The Werners’ gift was used for the first time this year at the fair. Read more.

Extension launches new website for food shelves

In September, Extension unveiled a new website that will help make the healthy choice the easy choice for food shelf operators and clients. The website, Building Better Food Shelves, features training, print materials and videos that are free of charge to food shelf directors, volunteers and others working to improve healthy food access.

Family Development hosts visitors from Guatemala, Tunisia

Extension’s Global Initiatives programming has become very active over the past two years. For example, the Extension Center for Family Development hosted a delegation of officials from Guatemala who wanted to learn how to improve school food programs. Extension’s Director of Global Initiatives John Vreyens, and Family Development’s Director of Programs, Trish Olson, collaborated in an application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Foreign Agricultural Service Cochran Fellows program. While agriculture is typically the focus of these fellowships, the delegation from Guatemala wanted to learn about nutrition standards, procurement, food safety and storage, school meal implementation and operations, monitoring and compliance, and innovative practices. During the two-week visit, the delegation spent time with Minnesota’s departments of education, health and agriculture, along with visits to schools offering unique school food programs, commercial food distributors, and a food hub.

A Cochran Fellows group from Tunisia visited in September as well. The group consisted of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and a farmer who was part of the farmer's union in Tunisia. Ben Anderson, regional director in Moorhead, helped pull together the visits to farms and cooperatives in the lower Red River Valley.
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